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Republicans believe in climate change but not global warming

A new study finds that self-described Republicans are less skeptical of “climate change” than “global warming”, reports Miller-McCune.

The research, conducted by psychologists at the University of Michigan, found that 44 percent of Republicans endorsed the idea that “global warming” is real, whereas 60 percent believed in “climate change.” Among self-described Democrats the difference in wording was negligible: 86.9 percent vs. 86.4 percent.

The question wording experiment was based on 2,261 responses. Overall 74 percent of respondents believed “climate change” was real, while 68 percent believed in “global warming.”

Tom Jacobs of Miller-McCune describes the experiment’s methodology:

The authors—Jonathon P. Schuldt, Sara H. Konrath, and Norbert Schwarz—speculate the difference arises due to the less specific nature of “climate change”.

“Global warming entails a directional prediction of rising temperatures that is easily discredited by any cold spell” they write, “whereas ‘climate change’ lacks a directional commitment and easily accommodates unusual weather of any kind.”

Jonathon P. Schuldt, Sara H. Konrath, and Norbert Schwarz. “Global warming” or “climate change”? Whether the planet is warming depends on question wording. Public Opinion Quarterly (2011) 75(1): 115-124 first published online February 21, 2011 doi:10.1093/poq/nfq073

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